Monday, November 14, 2005

Call Your Senators

I don't think it's overstating the case that this series on Obsidian Wings may be one of the most important to appear on any political blog in recent memory. It's a complicated issue, evidenced by the 13 posts Katherine and Hilzoy have penned to explain it all, but in a nutshell, our Senate voted to suspend habeas corpus for noncitizens being held captive at Guantanamo. What this means, unless it's stopped, is that our President can designate noncitizens as enemy combatants, send them to Gitmo, and then deny them any means to challenge their detentions in US courts until after the "war on terror" is over, which, as we know, may not happen in our lifetimes.

The examples of who this might affect that were debated include, incomprehensibly:

Could a "little old lady in Switzerland" who sent a check to an orphanage in Afghanistan be taken into custody if unbeknownst to her some of her donation was passed to al-Qaida terrorists? asked U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green.

"She could," replied Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle. "Someone's intention is clearly not a factor that would disable detention." It would be up to a newly established military review panel to decide whether to believe her and release her....

Here's the amendment the Senate passed (in pdf format).

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R. -S.C.) offered an impassioned defense of this unAmerican amendment (
here in Word Docucment format), minimizing the seriousness of what this means and exaggerating the potential for abuse not doing it represents. Hilzoy and Katherine make mincemeat of his arguments. If this seems as unAmericanly nightmarish to you as it does to me, I'd urge you to contact your Senators and tell them to vote for Jeff Bingaman's S. AMDT 2517 to bill S. 1042, which is designed to stop this madness.


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